Tokyo gubernatorial race amid coronavirus outbreak

The race to be Tokyo's next leader officially kicked off on June 18, with current governor Yuriko Koike facing a record 21 other candidates. The election is expected to be fought over coronavirus policy, and whether to go ahead with the postponed Olympic and Paralympic Games. Candidates are laying out their vision for the capital.

Yamamoto Taro

Yamamoto Taro, leader of the Reiwa Shinsengumi party, says it's crucial to support the livelihoods of Tokyo residents.

"I cannot ignore people who are struggling, and I want voters to allow me to take care of them. Tokyo should raise 15 trillion yen ($140 billion) on its own to cover people's losses from the coronavirus, and to respond to a possible second or third wave. The Olympics should be canceled, because it is clear the event cannot be staged until a drug or vaccine is available."

Koike Yuriko

Incumbent Koike Yuriko is running for a second term. She says fighting the coronavirus is the priority for Tokyo.

"The city needs to prepare for a second wave, and my idea is to create something like the US Centers for Disease Control in Tokyo. I will work to protect lives and make Tokyo prosperous. This requires scaling back some measures while nurturing money-making sectors."

But she remains committed to hosting an Olympics and Paralympics. "They are a source of enormous hope for children. I will simplify the Games and cut costs, and move ahead with preparations."

Koike has the backing of Nikai Toshihiro, secretary-general of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, though the party itself isn't supporting any specific candidate. She also has the tacit backing of the LDP's coalition partner, Komeito.

Utsunomiya Kenji

Utsunomiya Kenji is a former head of the Japan Federation of Bar Associations. He says he will improve the city's medical systems and fully compensate any businesses that were forced to shut down because of the coronavirus. And he suggested the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics could be axed.

"If infectious disease experts judge that it would be difficult to stage the Olympics and Paralympics next year, I will ask the International Olympic Committee to cancel the Games. The money that is saved will be used to provide relief to residents who have been affected by the coronavirus."

Utsunomiya has the backing of three opposition parties: the Constitutional Democratic Party, the Japanese Communist Party and the Social Democratic Party.

Ono Taisuke

Ono Taisuke is running with the support of the Nippon Ishin Japan Innovation Party. He is a former deputy governor of Kumamoto prefecture, and says that experience means he is the only candidate who can get to work immediately.

"Tokyo has been the least successful in keeping the number of infections down. I will come up with measures to revive Tokyo as quickly as possible, placing the strongest emphasis on the economy. Tokyo cannot look forward to welcoming foreign visitors and the money they bring in, so we must establish a flow of people and money and goods between Tokyo and other parts of Japan."

Tachibana Takashi

Tachibana Takashi is the leader of the Party of Protecting People from NHK. He is focusing on protecting business owners from the impact of the coronavirus outbreak.

"People in the amusement industry being told repeatedly to refrain from running their businesses feel as if they are being told to die. Proper compensation must be given if a second wave of infections leads to more calls for restraint. Tokyo must take coronavirus measures by issuing municipal bonds."

In previous years, it was common to see crowds gathered in streets or public halls to hear candidates speak. In the coronavirus era, with Tokyo's leaders trying to keep infections under control, most candidates are likely to rely more on social media and the internet to get their messages across.

Here is a complete list of candidates, in the order in which they filed their candidacies:

Yamamoto Taro (45)
Koike Yuriko (67)
Nanami Hiroko (35)
Utsunomiya Kenji (73)
Sakurai Makoto (48)
Komiyama Hiroshi (46)
Ono Taisuke (46)
Takemoto Hideyuki (64)
Nishimoto Makoto (33)
Sekiguchi Yasuhiro (68)
Oshikoshi Seiichi (61)
Hattori Osamu (46)
Tachibana Takashi (52)
Saito Kenichiro (39)
Goto Teruki (37)
Sawa Sion (44)
Ichikawa Hiroshi (58)
Ishii Hitoshi (55)
Nagasawa Yasuhiro (34)
Ushio Kazue (33)
Hiratsuka Masayuki (38)
Naito Hisao (63)

Voters will go to the polls on July 5th.